Gidden and Goffman

1134 words 5 pages
Gidden and Goffman literature review

Giddens, A, 1991. ‘The self: Ontological security and the existential anxiety’ Chapter 2 from modernity and self identity. Self and society in the late modern age, Cambridge: Polity Press.


Goffman, E. 1959. ‘Performances’ chapter 1, from the presentation of self in everyday life. London: penguin.

Identity in a sociological sense is more than individual genetics or individuality. Self identity is made up by many characteristics including; our personal experiences, beliefs, socio-economic status and other factors. Society plays a huge role in determining identity, although true identity generally isn’t a true reflection of an individual’s self identity. Over the generations there have been
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Goffman’s theory basically assumes that identity is based on life’s performances and an individual's acceptance in to society is gained by how well each individual performs and conforms to their societal role.

Comparatively the two theories of self and identity are vastly different and in no way related in the aspect of how most relate to each others ideology of sociological identity. On one hand Goffman is referring to identity as being part of a performance and allowing the audience to decide if you fit the roles, meaning that to maintain ones identity, they rely upon outsiders or as stated by Goffman, “the audience”, to validate their identity. So realistically in the case of this theory, an individual really isn’t forming their own identity because it is based on the audience approval as to whether they fill the role in an appropriate and accepted manner.

Whereas Gidden is saying that individual’s experiences of continuation and mentally stability form identity, and anxieties and chaos can cause one to withdraw from their stable self. So, in terms of Giddens theory, an individual has to be mentally stable and have the ability to maintain a sense of order and continuity in their life, if they wish to maintain their own self identity. They must not let anxieties and chaos get in the way, as this will impact negatively on their identity.

Looking at both readings, they appear to be on the opposite